Audu Ogbe Minister for Agriculture has expressed his displeasure in the imbalance between Nigeria and Norway. Ogbe, who was represented by the Executive Director, Nigerian Institute of Marine Research and Oceanography, Dr. Gbolagade Akande, stated that Nigeria has been importing stockfish from Norway for the past 127 years; since 1890. He described this as a good business relation between the two countries, especially considering the fact that stockfish has no quota system.
He said: “There is trade imbalance in the bilateral relationship because Nigeria imports hugely from Norway but Norway cannot be said to be taking anything from Nigeria. This is not good for our economy. That is why we are advocating for the need to invest and encourage research into the area of Aquaculture and fishmeal production. There is a lot of fish in our water that can support fishmeal production but sadly Nigeria depends largely on importation of fishmeal into the country. We want Norway to come and invest in Fishmeal industry in Nigeria to close the gap in this trade imbalance,”
The minister said this is important because Norway is not importing oil from Nigeria because Norway too has oil. He called on Norwegian government to look at the Seafood sector of Agriculture where the two countries have many things in common and invest in it. He described the seminar as another opportunity for Nigeria and Norway to move forward in their business relations.
“Now we are talking of how to move forward and the way to go about that is to work on how we can bridge the disparity between demand and supply. To achieve this, the two countries will collaborate to inject money into research while Norway is particularly needed to set up Fishmeal companies in Nigeria.
While pointing out that there is still huge potential in the market, Ogbe put the demand of 180 million people population in Nigeria at 2.7million metric tons, out of which he said Nigeria is only producing 1.7 metric tons.
Also speaking at the event, the Norwegian Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Fisheries Mr. Ronny Berg, who was represented by the Ambassador of Norway to Nigeria, Jens-Peter Kjemprud, also admitted that there is a lot opportunities in the seafood sector and promised that Norway is determined to collaborate with Nigeria to explore the sector.
He however stated that the recent economic situation in the world has affected the sector like other areas of the global economy but added that a lot are being done to boost production and create jobs, where necessary.
The Ambassador also agreed with the Nigeria minister that Norway has been exporting stock fish to Nigeria since 1890s and that Norwegian seafood represents an important source of protein to many Nigerians.
The ambassador, who pointed out that Nigeria, is Norway’s biggest trading partner on the African continent said; “Nigeria and Norway have bilateral trade relations and we have been working closely together for more than 100 years. We are investing in fish, especially stock fish, sardines, and marcarer, as well as oil. Nigeria is a fertile land and that is why we will do more in our investment here”.
He however called on the federal Government to boost its provision of infrastructure such as power and tighter security for their investment to bloom in order to command more investment into the country. He did acknowledged the fact that Nigerians are friendly people that do not discriminate against foreigners.
Earlier, the ambassador had held close door meeting with Customs Authority officials and the Director of Fisheries as well as Norwegian and Nigerian companies active in trade and investment. It was also indicated that he would also visit the Institute for Maritime Research, the Nigerian-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce, and the main stock fish market in Lagos.